People Updates

Featured Profile

Will Hutton

Will Hutton

Principal, Hertford College, Oxford University and chair of the Big Innovation Centre

Friday 25 Jul 2014
Cloud based technology is coming - ready or not

Cloud based technology is coming - ready or not

Why is Cloud-based a better way to use technology?

  • It’s Quicker to set up: Previously, your IT department researched, specified and then bought some kit (where’s the budget?); checked it works, installed it, and plumbed it together. Only then can you actually start putting your software on. This often takes months, and this delay costs time and money.
  • It runs on cheaper, more scalable internet infrastructure. The technology used by good cloud suppliers is kept in modern data centres by specialist companies. The equipment used has extremely strong security and is modern; and modern IT equipment is faster, cheaper, more reliable, and more energy efficient.
  • It’s built from modern software. Modern software is deliberately designed to be easier to use. That’s easier for both the user (you) and the person setting it up for you (normally the supplier (although due to easy set-up tools, you could do). Reduced time means reduced cost.
  • It’s designed for humans first. Modern software is developed using tools that allows suppliers to build simple, clean, engaging screens. The best user experiences are substantially more intuitive, leading to better uptake from your people and less training required.
  • It allows vendors to focus R&D spend; gets you new things quicker. With suppliers focussing at fewer versions of their product, they can focus more resources at developing it faster. This means that newer ideas get into the product faster, and at higher quality.
  • Someone else manages updates/outages/service. Internal IT departments are not always the best at responding to the HRD’s behest to get the HR system up again, if something “more business critical” has just gone down. HR is often second best; for right or wrong….
  • It makes upgrades easier. By keeping the number of product variations down, it’s easier to move customers to newer versions (traditional software often requires lots of testing with ties up resources and costs money). It helps the customer, because they are up-to-date; and it helps the supplier, because they don’t maintain versions of old technology.
  • You pay as you go. Most cloud suppliers charge on a “per user per month” basis. This means you only pay as you use the software. No large up-front fees, and no large fees on upgrades. It’s easier to budget

There are, however, some things to think about - these benefits also come with some implications:

How does it link to other systems: integration is still expensive, however you do it.

Auto upgrades, or on-demand ones? You’ll need to do testing and confirm up and downstream information every time you change. If automatic upgrades come at you three times a year, you need to be prepared for this.

Are you buying a roadmap of superb future ideas, or are you buying what’s there and usable today?

How do you fit your processes around technology (as cloud technology will not fit around your unique needs, you need to be prepared to buy something substantially less customisable)?

All in all, the benefits substantially outweighs the disadvantages, to the extent it’s now quite difficult to buy old-style software licences. All this is driving change, positive for everyone (except possibly the control of the CTO); but go into the journey armed with the right questions and you can make sure that you come out with the best answers for you.